5 Essential Characteristics of Leading

If you want to be a great leader it requires some indispensable characteristics and qualities. I have already written on some important Quality’s of a Leader, so today let’s focus on some characteristic of an effective leader.

1. Visionary- A leader must have a clear picture of the future while remaining focused on the present. This can be hard because as Jonathan Swift said, “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” If a leader takes the time to think about the future of their industry and the possible changes, then they will see the “invisible” and stay ahead of today’s fast paced society. Effective leaders have a clear picture of the future then gather people around them who can produce results which lead to the vision being accomplished.

2. Team Builder- An essential characteristic of leading others is the ability to build and maintain teams of people. Good leaders know the value of having a united team that can effectively work together to produce results. This can be done if a leader puts the right people in the right places within the team or organization. Doing this requires taking the time to know and understand your people

3. Communicator- A leader needs to be able to effectively communicate with others, both verbally and non-verbally. The leader’s words and body language needs to be lined up with the message they are communicating. Becoming a better communicator is a skill every leader must develop. This is because so much of leadership is about communicating. James Humes said, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

4. Change Agent- Leaders need to avoid the dangers of not changing by becoming change agents. The status quo might be to stay the same and resist change but effective leaders chose to rise above the status quo and create change. Great organizations and teams only happen if the leader is moving forward. Many of the businesses and organizations that have fallen during the recession were resistant change and kept doing what they have always done. Those who have stayed strong have leaders who were creating change.

5. Producer- Effective leaders have the ability to produce and can influence others to produce results in given areas. The true test of an effective leader is their ability to produce desired results, whether it’s individual or team results. It’s wise to remember leadership and results are closely connected with each other.

Question: What other characteristics would you add to the list?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • That is a pretty complete list…I am not too sure what I would add…probably nothing. Thanks for the encouragement Dan.

    • Jim,

      I hope the list helps. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • Numbers 1 and 4 go together so closely that I would almost consider combining them. Being visionary is great, but if you can’t make the change you’re proposing happen, all the vision in the world does nothing.

    • Rob,

      Both of them go hand in hand and are important. I think a leader first needs to get a vision then get going with producing the change and results needed to accoplish it. Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the discussion.

  • I think the communication aspect is probably the most important. I’ve seen so many leaders struggle because of a breakdown in that area.

    If I had to add anything to the list, I think being trustworthy would be crucial. Everything ties together, so people would probably trust you if you were all of the above anyway.

    • Loren,
      I totally agree with you about communication. I think it’s important to remember it’s not just about verbal but also non-verbal communication, both are essential skills to have. I have seen many leaders who like to talk but fail to see the other persons body language saying, “Stop talking already.”

      Great addition about a leader being trustworthy. Trust is the glue that holds everything together. Thank you for adding value to the post.

  • I can think of two additions but they may fall under the banner of 1 and 3.

    The first that came to mind was Being a Listener. You must be able to listen to your team and to the current environment.

    Be a Risk Taker. There will be times when you need to take great risks to reap great rewards. Are you willing?

    • Joe,

      Great additions man. Both are very important aspects a leader should have. More leaders need to understand the importance of listening. Without risks taking you will not achieve great things.

      Thank you as always for adding such great points to the post.

  • I think as a part of point two and three a leader has to listen to his team. There was a great post about this yesterday on michaelhyatt.com. Five great points that I need to work on!

    • Kimanzi,

      Good and true point. I saw the post but have not read it yet, I’ll have to read it today. I think every leader should be developing their communication and listening skills.

      Reading the comments so far the listening aspect of communication seems to be a key point, one of us will need to write more about this topic.

  • I think your list is good. I especially like 1 and 2. If I had to add one it would be trustworthy.

    • Bernard,

      Thank you. I’m glad you liked reading it and I hoped it helped you. Totally agree with you about trustworthy, this is one of the most important things a leader can have. If a leader wants to influence others they need to be one others can trust.

      Thank you for stopping by. Hopefully we can start connecting more.

  • Thanks Dan for this good reminder about the indispensable characteristics of a leader. I like to add ‘Consistency’ since inconsistency destroys the momentum of a leader as well as his organization.

    • Joe,

      And what a great addition, consistency is so important and essential for a leader to have. Thank you for sharing these great thoughts with others.

  • While one shouldn’t fix something if it isn’t broken, leaders must also be willing to push limits, question the status quo and take chances.

    Love this part, “effective leaders chose to rise above the status quo and create change.”

    • TC Avey,

      Defiantly true about not fixing what already working but maybe making it better. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • Even more than these, I think a leader needs to know his/her strengths and weaknesses, and be willing to empower a team to do what s/he can’t. No one leader excels in every characteristic of leadership. A great leader knows that and brings others around him/her to do what they can’t do.

    • Jason,

      This is a very important aspect. Really liked what your said about bring others around you who complement your weak areas. Thank you for points this characteristic out.

  • Definitely agree with these and love how you add the visionary to the team as well. I think it’s sad that some teams don’t know what vision means or how to look for it for their business, team, or project. Great post!

    • Becky,

      First off, its great to hear from you. I hope your doing good.

      It’s true, “without vision the people perish” which is happening to many businesses, people, and teams. This of cores is not due completely to the lack of vision but it often plays a role in it. Thank you for adding to the post.

  • Humility is mandatory. I don’t leave home without it! I try to be the first one to point out my mistakes right away… it makes it easier for everyone else to follow suit. No one on our team ever tries to hide a mistake. It’s a contagious quality in our department!

    • Scott,

      What an essential characteristic every leader should have. Pointing out personal mistakes is a true sign of a humble person/leader and it can create a great working environment. Thank you for adding this point.

    • Humility agreed. Humble confidence is an awesome characteristic!

  • Great list Dan. I like that you finished with “leadership and results are closely connected.” I have seen leadership that creates a culture of failure in the name of being transparent. The purpose of leadership is to move people, ie produce results.

    Great leaders empower their tribe to take action, making it about the tribe and not themselves.

    • Cole,

      Great point about “leaders empower their tribe to take action.” The role of any leader is to influence others to produce desired result. Thank you for taking the time to read and add value to the discussion.

  • Dan, when it comes to team building what are some of the best ways that you recommend? I want more suggestions from others. You know there are so many different personalities out there. I know the 80/20 rule, but do you have any other suggestions?

    • Lincoln Parks,

      On my side bar under the category section their is a Teams category, going throw them might help you get an idea of some ways to build a team. What type of team building do you currently do now?

      Does anyone else reading this have any suggestions for Lincoln Parks?

      • I am going to check out some of what you have on building teams. At the moment, after all our events I have everyone introduce themselves and where they are from. They we do a team building activity to break the ice. I do conference calls, and team Webinars. However, I feel we need something different that I want to improve on. I hope others have suggestions also, so let me get to reading this from you. Thanks!

        • Lincoln Parks,

          Let me know if you find the team work posts helpful.

          Have you though about together going through a book or workbook then each week within your conference call taking 10-15 minutes to talk then allow your people to talk about what they have learned and their thoughts about the chapter or section of the book? I think a team that grows together stays together.

          • I hadn’t done that yet Dan and its a great suggestion. I think that I will start that with the Zig Ziglar Pick four series book on Goals. Thanks for the suggestion, I like it.

            • Glad it helped.

              Or each week you can share/teach a leadership principle, then have them be thinking and applying it into their life for that week. Then at the next call/week discuss how they applied it into their life.

              For example:

              You teach them(5-10min.) about the power of a positive attitude and how it can help in prospecting. Then challenge them to focus on daily having a great attitude and using their positive attitude to contact one person a day for this week. This is very practical to apply because as your living your life with a good attitude prospects will be drawn to your good attitude.

              Do you think something like this would help?

              • Dan, those are some great suggestions and I have taken notes and will be applying them. I know I am on different levels of Leadership with each member of the team. This will be interesting and great to implement. Yes, this helps tremendously.

                • I’m so glad it helped. your influencing and impacting a lot of people, keep up the great work!!!

                  Keep growing, serving, and leading.

          • I hadn’t done that yet Dan and its a great suggestion. I think that I will start that with the Zig Ziglar Pick four series book on Goals. Thanks for the suggestion, I like it.

  • Yes, we need to have some qualities to be good leaders. In my opinion, the most important skill is communication, because we need to know how to speak with others… if something is not alright to say it. We learn about this subject over and over again, because nobody is the same and everybody leads differently.

    • Communication is one of the top ones a leader needs to have. Its the key to effective leadership. Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

  • Ameer Jan

    yes, we add one characteristic in leading, Motivation is must in leading

    • YES, it sure is. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jessica Sweet

    HI Dan, I would say that a great leader has to have the ability to be empathetic while still keeping the larger vision or goals in mind. I think it’s hard to balance both things well.

    • Those are essential qualities. Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the discussion. I hope your doing well Jessica:)